There are essentially three types of patents: Utility, Design and Plant.
- A Utility Patent is “issued for the invention of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement thereof.” If granted, its owner may exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention for a period of up to twenty years from the date of filing the patent application. For a Utility Patent to remain in force the owner must make periodic maintenance fee payments. Approximately 90% of patents issued are Utility Patents. This type of patent may also be called “patents for invention.”
- A Design Patent is “issued for a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.” The period of protection for a Design Patent is fourteen years during which its owner may exclude others from making, using or selling the design. Maintenance fees are not required for Design Patents.
- A Plant Patent is “issued for a new and distinct, invented or discovered asexually reproduced plant including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state.” A Plant Patent owner may exclude others from making, using, or selling the plant for a period of up to twenty years from the date of filing the patent application filing. Plant Patents are also not subject to the payment of maintenance fees.
To discuss further which type of patent application applies to your situation, please contact Tennessee Patent Law.